August 15th, 2014 | by SAMANTHA MATSUMOTO News | Posted In: Congress, Legislature, PDX News, Politics, Tech

At TechFestNW, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden Calls For Greater Privacy Protections

imag1477U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden at TechFestNW

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Friday called for a reform of U.S. privacy protections during a presentation at TechFestNW

"Laws should never be written for the convenience of the government," Wyden said. "Securing innovation and privacy in the 21st century will require major reform."

Wyden, who has served on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee for 13 years, said that privacy rights need to updated for the digital age.

Wyden has been outspoken about privacy protections in the past and has advocated for the Patriot Act to be amended to limit the National Security Agency's data collection ability.

In June, The Guardian reported on the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA  had Verizon turn over the phone records of millions of Americans. 

Wyden says he believes information kept on online accounts and shared over cell phones should be protected from government surveillance.  

"Some will argue that by sharing data freely, Americans are making that data public," Wyden says. "That is simply not the case."  

In an age where the majority of people keep information on smart phones and online accounts, Wyden says, it's become too easy for the government can invade the privacy of law-abiding citizens. 

"20th century laws are not going to cut it for 21st century needs," Wyden says. "Technological progress must never weaken the rights upon which our people depend."

Wyden says he's currently working on a bipartisan bill that would require the government to obtain a search warrant in order to gain track citizens on GPS-enabled devices like smart phones. 

"The new tools require new rules," Wyden said.

UPDATE, 5:15 pm: Nigel Duara of the Associated Press notes that Wyden debuted his time-frame for reforming telecommunications privacy.

"Wyden is targeting the 2015 PATRIOT Act reauthorization for his stand," Duara reports on Twitter, "and today's speech at a tech conference was the first step."


 
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